Maya: During your fourteen month trip you visted ashrams in India, Europe and North America. What kind of variations and similarities did you find at life in the different ashrams?
Janaki: Each ashram was very similar to the next. It was like dropping into a planet, as you dropped into the same rhythm and intention as you traveled from country to country. There was a flavour difference, and it was very evident that each country has a personality. The idea was that we stayed in the ashram and did the practice. Stepping out of the ashram you really felt the personality of each country. France, England, India, Eastern Canada, The United states. It becomes evident through intuition. So it’s not something you have to leave the ashram to experience. Every time I left the ashram it was like doing an anthropological sociological study. Like I was visiting a new planet and I was learning about the society I was traveling into. So those traits that Caroline Myss discusses in her book Sacred Contracts, are evident in the different countries. Some emphasize the victim, some emphasis the rebel kind of personality. It just reflects itself in each country as if it were a human being. The ashrams are very international in flavour. People are coming from everywhere. There is a big emphasis on international religion, international speaking. Many religions are taught and learned. It is like a little United Nations and teachers come to teach Sufism and to teach about Buddhism, to teach Islam. There are all of these instructions and teachings shared on a workshop basis. Religion is just a way of realigning with the divine source. Religion is just a code for humanity to go to, to learn to be a good person. That’s the core of all religions. Mostly it’s regional. It started out regional. It’s a way for people to tell each other how to live a good moral life. The codes of nature are listed in religion. One thing someone learns by studying them all is they are very similar, so connected, and so here the yogi understands that.
Maya: Can you tell us about the outside culture coming in to your ashram experience. The flavours of personalities of the various countries?
Janaki: I felt that the British thinking expressed a sense of things not being quite right. There is a sense of pointing out what’s not quite right but really not doing much about it. With this thinking of seeking out problems it makes them good at engineering, good at working out what’s not going to work.
With France their joy of life philosophy is about living life and not worrying about what goes wrong. It is more about living life to live it. So it really irritates the British because they really want to fix things that go wrong, and they are always fussing about what is going wrong.
In India we were traveling in the north and there were horrendous rainstorms. The weather changes in India, and they get a lot more flooding and raining during the monsoon than they use to. Our journey was cut short because we couldn’t travel due to landslides. If it was in North America roads would be shut down for 20k at least on either side and no one could go in. In India someone would hire a truck to get right into the landslide, as far in as possible, then the Indians would hop out with their bags to get to the other side of the landslide where the road started again. Trucks wait at the other side,. They also run across by foot.
Here we have a lot of fear around our safety conscious life in North America. In India people do what they’ve got to do. Secondly someone would find a bulldozer and somehow it would make its way up the landslide, and someone slowly over the next few days would slowly clear the highway to make a dirt road wide enough for one vehicle. This dirt road would be called the highway again. So India does just enough to carry on. If it was North America it would have to be completely paved, back to normal for roads to be open again. But in India it’s a dirt track so people can get through and no one’s complaining. And nobody usually dies, and nobody is worried about safety because everyone understands the will of the way things should be. If someone dies it’s the way it should be, their karma.
Maya: When you return from a trip such as this what is your experience of reengaging with Vancouver life like, and what kind of new observations did you make in regard to culture differences?
Janaki: When I go away on a long journey and I return to Vancouver, each time I have a chance to see life in the western world, North America specifically, a little differently.
It wakens me up to the paradigm, the formula that we are actually living in. When I first went to India what was white there was black here and vice versa. Extreme differences. Then slowly each visit I melted more into eastern culture so when I am back in the western culture I am in it but not so much part of it. Witnessing observations rather than goal setting and doing, manifesting. There was a lot of that before. I did have my manifestation years which are behind me now. I did a lot, improved a lot, until the late 90s. Now it’s more about calling the universe and waiting for the universe to show me the way.
It’s not our fault that we are taught from a very young age about manifesting, working to be the best we are and break through barriers sometimes and change the world. If its possible, we westerners feel we can change the world. Many westerners look for something that couldn’t change. They’re seeking in their periscopes, their monocle, they’re looking for what can be changed, what’s wrong. With the Indian perspective life happens the way it’s suppose to happen. It’s happening the way it should be and the duty of the citizen, the human being is to accept what is coming in to their life and be centered in that and accept that. If it’s hardship to look for the lesson. Because our karma we bring is part of the reason we are here. To learn the karma we are bringing into this life and live the life we are given. And then be a good person, accept the karma and still stay on that mark and be that good person whatever comes to you.
The Indian citizen can be in a tsunami disaster and they just do whatever they have to do to get back on course. But there is no wailing or crying of the victim mentality. This time it really showed itself on my return to Vancouver, how much the humanity in North America dwell on this victim mentality. This time when I returned I was on the bus and I noticed worry on people’s faces, and the sense of not being supported medically, financially, those basics of life. Getting food, shelter. This sixth sense just came up and showed me this beautiful paradigm, glowing and sparkling of creativity, but the underbelly has this sense of lack of foundation. And part of that can be because the god is money in the western world. People do everything they can to make money. So getting up in the morning, it is all about getting the money in order to live. So I feel the money is a hungry dragon, it just eats and eats and eats, as much as you go towards the money lifestyle of making money. It’s an endless eating machine, eating more money eating more money and it goes on to infinity. If people can turn and look towards nature and divine connection to nature the money will come, it will just appear as needed.
This time coming back to Vancouver I really noticed this drive for getting more, buying more things. It is a lifestyle for many, many people. Those without money are heavy with burden. Whereby I feel that going and being in India those without these comforts are living glowing lives, their faces are glowing, they have family. In India family stays with family. It stays and layers itself on itself. In North America people leave home at 17, 18 yrs old, and that family is often at a distance. Sometimes kids travel as far as they can to be away from the family. We’re taught to be on a departure from family. In India they stay with family and build on it. Grandparents are with grandkids. The values and responsibilities, the moral values stay within the family and the children learn from the elders, and the elders are respected.
Maya: What is your experience of yoga that you could convey as inspiration for someone just coming to yoga, or who is considering becoming a yoga student?
Janaki: Creativity flows through when one stills the mind with meditation through yoga. The creativity flows in. It’s just waiting. This is the prana that people see when that particular person is walking down the street. This is doing the practice of yoga, not just assanas but the whole practice. The meditation, the toning, the way of thinking, a positive way of thinking, the connection to the divine, and to nature, dialoging with nature, all of this creates a being with such prana and energy. People unknowingly are attracted to this energy. It’s a gift that a yogi can give to others by doing the work because they then are like a billboard of the results of the work. It’s the journey of opening up the energy centres. It’s the journey of opening up the emotions. When they go deeper and deeper this opens up their energy records and energy centres and they’re able to emotionally cleanse, to become that person that can withstand all events in their life. Wonderful good ones or challenges. If we do the yoga it opens us up. If we are flexible in our hips we are flexible in our lives. This is where yoga therapy takes it away from physical activity and goes deeper and deeper into the tissues to heal, opening up the flowers of our holding patterns, and the person becomes lighter and lighter.
Thank you Janaki!